Ackk! Help me hide the pink tile!

kmcgAugust 4, 2008

Please tell me if this is too crazy: I have a 1957 vintage bathroom with the original tile tub surround and "wainscoting" on all the walls. The tile is sickly pink with a brown border. I know I'll need to re-tile the tub surround, but I want to cover up the wall tile without ripping it out. It's just too expensive to do right now, yet I want to modernize the bath on a minimal budget. I found some self-adhesive vinyl floor tiles that look like natural stone, and they actually look really good just slapped over the pink tile, leaving the brown tile border visible. Is there any practical reason not to continue this treatment beyond my test spot? Will the adhesive stick on a vertical surface? What about using vinyl tiles for a countertop application? Too many moisture issues?

I'm hoping someone can stop laughing long enough to give me some input here :) Thanks in advance!

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Sorry, I'd rather you embrace the pink tile!

If you want tips for working with what you have, check out

Or read bathroom expert/preservationist Jane Powell's article (though like you, she seems to hate pink!).

    Bookmark   August 4, 2008 at 10:41PM
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As a former inhabitant of my own Pepto Bismal palace, I fell your pain. Speaking from experience, I think you are better off keeping the pink tiles and using it as an inspiration to save your pennies till you can afford to rip it out and have a proper redo than create your own 70's retro refit.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2008 at 9:15AM
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I would also not recommend the self stick tile. A few months of steaming showers and parts of it will start peeling off. Although I am not a big fan of it, a friend did have someone come in and etch and respray her powder blue tiles to white. That would last a few years till you can save up to just rip them out. Not sure where you find these people but search under tile etching I think.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2008 at 9:18AM
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I think my 1950 house has the same color scheme as the OP.

Since moving in, we've replaced the commode, removed the space-sucking vanity and installed a simple wallmount sink from Toto. We tore off the wallpaper as it seemed too dark, but we gave up trying to get the liner off and covered it all with textured white wallpaper.

I could live with the color, but the tiles in the tub/shower area are dulled from scrubbing or bleach or something. That's why we're thinking of either reglazing (in white) the tub & tiles, or gutting the whole thing. The floor is grungy up close. Again, if I can figure out how to clean the grout, I might be willing to keep it.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2008 at 9:57AM
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Anna Vegia

I had a pink and black bathroom at one point, and I just decided to put lots of white and clear glass to go with it. It was actually quite pretty, in a very girly way. I would avoid the self-stick tiles. That might look OK at first, but I don't think it would take long to become a mess, especially on a countertop.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2008 at 10:00AM
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Can you post a picture? I'd avoid the stick tiles, when they fail you'll end up with a gummy mess. What color brown is the accent? If it's chocolate, I'd go with that for the walls. If it's that tanish brown color, that's more of a problem. I'd try to work with the pink theme, though. Play it up, have fun with it. What's the rest of your house like?

    Bookmark   August 5, 2008 at 10:56AM
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I've seen it covered up with beadboard and look nice. You can also hair someone to come in a spray paint it another color or white.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2008 at 11:50AM
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Look under bathtub reglazing for vendors who will first etch the surface with a grinder, then paint it any color you want. It's a high-gloss look using paint similar to auto paint. Plan on allowing the surfaces to dry thoroughly - usually 36 hrs to touch, then one month to completely cure. No abrasives allowed or necessary.

If you have damaged grout, be sure to discuss this with the vendor first to ensure you get the results you want. Most companies offer a warranty of anywhere from 2 - 5 years. Tile can be repainted at any time, and always touch up scratches as soon as possible.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2008 at 2:12PM
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I also feel your pain as we used to have the pink and black bathroom. IMHO, it was hideous! Unfortunately, the only way to fix ours was to gut it. I considered reglazing but there are multiple posts about reglazing only lasting for a year or two, so I ruled it out.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2008 at 2:55PM
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or, tile right over it with new tile. We did that to hide our 1950s deep burgundy tiles. We ended up with a small "shelf" where the tile stops at the top, but our tile guy just tiled a narrow shelf with bullnose tile.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2008 at 3:18PM
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I hate pink so bad that if I were a flamingo I'd commit birdicide.

Seriously though: I'd do whatever it takes to get rid of that stuff. It's possible you could find some sort of stucco type product that would adhere, or it could be painted [I've heard of DIY kits for painting wall tile, but I'd get a price from a pro as well] or tiling over it. Not sure what kind of substrate you'd have to have, not sure that thinset would stick without a cement board and mechanical fastner.

Bill or Mongo would know, of course...

    Bookmark   August 6, 2008 at 5:34PM
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We had similar decor in our house, but our tile "wainscoting" was plastic. Our temporary fix in the bathroom was to clean, prime, paint, then trim out with chair rail. So far it's great, no peeling or water damage from the tub, and we have a toddler who loves to splash. We've had it this way for 2 years. In the kitchen, we hid the "dead salmon" colored plastic tile with inexpensive sheet "beadboard", painted, and trimmed. It looks very nice. I realize this is not a very fancy fix, but when you're on a slim to nothing budget and just want the color gone for now, it works great.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2008 at 10:17AM
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I think you might quickly come to regret your temporary solution. I actually saw on TV once (don't remember which show) a similar situation. The advice was to work with the pink and not fight it. Could you wallpaper the regular parts of the wall with a patterned paper that has subtle touches of pink in it. The idea is to draw attention to the paper and away from the tile. (or something like that)

    Bookmark   August 7, 2008 at 5:00PM
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This is amazing. My husband and I are currently trying to figure out what to do about our pink bathroom! The tub is pink and all the walls are covered in pink tile. Ugh! It's amazing that there were so many people out there who thought that looked good.

We're also considering glazing the tile and tub. When/if we have the money, we'll gut the bathroom and start from scratch.

Glad to know we're not in this alone. :-)

    Bookmark   August 7, 2008 at 10:55PM
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Reglazing - which is really painting - works fine if done by a good vendor who takes care with the prep. We had it done in 2003 to a sickly green bathtub and it's in perfect shape. My MIL had it done to her tub and shower (a symphony in rosy pink, seafoam green, and BLACK tiles!) about 20 yrs ago, and it's still fine.

You have to take some care - less than you would if you tiled it in limestone or marble. Not a big deal, honestly.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2008 at 11:42PM
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Depends on how much you really hate pink. I first got started posting on THS, (and House Vix will remember!) when I accidentally chose a pepto bismol color for my tiny back bedroom walls. Since my dear dad painted it for me, I was not about to redo it. I posted on the decorating forum for some advice. The advice I got worked pretty good. You see what I had been doing to get away from the pink was filling up the room with highly contrasting colors, which I thought would draw my attention away from the pink color. But actually, what it did in essence was HIGHLIGHT the pink color. My first suspect in your situtation would be the dark brown border, which probably frames and draws attention to the pink tile. That in itself probably will be easier to fix than the tile.

If the tile is in good shape, consider yourself lucky. Peel and stick stuff does not hold up to moisture. We had that stuff in our old bathroom for years and it was a constant upkeep battle. You can put an acrylic tub surround over the tiles, but to do it right you have to first put up waterproof wallboard over the tiles. The folks who did my current bathroom did not do this and I am suffering the consequences. If you don't put up the wallboard you will not have a flat surface to glue the acrylic tub surround to, and it too will come unglued and you will have moisture problems. If you really want to cover the tiles, Google for instructions on how to do it properly.

The colors I have found that downplay pink are colors that are actually close to pink--red, brown, cream, maroon, peach, natural wood. Wood looks great with pink. I have two antique wood pieces in my back bedroom now, I can't believe how wonderful they look. Instead of being a detriment, the pink walls highlight the warm maple wood. Now when I walk into my back bedroom I see great looking natural pieces, and a mirror with a natural cream colored crackle finish with soft antiquey pink and brown and green roses painted on it.

Other suggestions are earth tones rag rugs, and natural basket ware and wicker. Also introducing some patterned elements with pink but mixed with other warm colors. Go with warm colors. Also, green foliage looks great with pink. The best way to downplay a feature you hate is not to hide it, embrace it. Another example is this weird blue-grey wainscotting I have in my guest bedroom. Since it is glued to the wall and I didn't feel like replastering, I decided to keep it. I painted the walls a light blue-grey color that I love, and I really no longer notice the weirdness of the wainscotting (well almost). Before, with brown walls, the wainscotting stood out.

On the other hand, you can embrace the pink and go for something totally kaleidescope and modern if you want--like pink and black and silver, or pink and red and teal and purple and orange and lime green. That's another strategy--the Jacob's Coat look. Or use those Miami colors--light pink, light green, light yellow, beige, a kind of sandy beach with pink shells look.

Consider yourself lucky, the toilet, tub and sink could also be pink!!

    Bookmark   August 8, 2008 at 8:56AM
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My kids' bathroom had horrible brown tile on the floor, and I put stone-colored vinyl adhesive tiles over it. It looks better, I have to say, but it's a temporary fix until we redo that bathroom. The vinyl tiles are laid square and the original tiles were diagonal, so now the diagonal lines show through the vinyl. But still, it's better!

I also used to have a pink and black 1940's bathroom - when we sold that house, our real estate agent told us to buy a big white bathroom rug, bright white shower curtain, and nice chrome shower rings. It actually helped a ton to minimize the pink.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2008 at 7:00AM
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I used wall paper that looked like brushed aluminum (it also has engraved? lines) to cover the tile wainscotting.

I stopped the paper 1/2" before the tub. I have pink tile behind the tub and closed the grey shower curtain. I painted the pink tile counter top with the white epoxy bought at the box store - still intact and looks great and sorry I didn't do that years prior. I have a pink floor and cover most with 2 washable grey bathroom rugs. I painted the walls a purple/gray and the woodwork with a Ralph Lauren gun metal colored metallic paint. Considering what I had when I started, it looked darn good. The typical comment is, "wow, is that metal?" It been up for 9 years and looks like the day I put it up.

On the "how to" - I used a heavy duty adhesive and put up a plain undercoating. I don't recall what it was called, but it's purpose was to cover uneven surfaces. Then I put up the metallic paper.

In my kitchen, I couldn't make up my mind for a tile backsplash. In the interim I bought the embossed, unfinished wall paper that looks like 4" antique tin ceiling tiles. I cut out the tiles with an x-acto knife and glued them up (even though I aligned them perfectly, I wanted them to have an edge to look like metal tiles) then I painted it with the Ralph L. metal paint.

These were "temporary fixes" that have lasted.

The kitchen looks even better than the bath and I bet I could have gotten away with one layer of the embossed paper if I'd used it in the bathroom. The problem with the kitchen embossed paper is it is hard to clean.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2008 at 4:13PM
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When we bought our house it had a 1972 pink hall bathroom with the tile in pristine condition. Even though we're not big fans of pink, it seemed a shame to rip it out. The previous owners, to add insult to injury, had papered the walls above the tile in a pink print and left their pink-patterned shower curtain behind. I read some articles and decided to work with the pink by not using pink anywhere else in the bathroom. We replaced the pink sink and toilet with white, but left the pink tub and just hung a white shower curtain so the tub doesn't show unless you are in it. We replaced the floor with grey and white tile, replaced the paper with a grey and white striped paper and painted the sink cabinet white. The pink color tile halfway up the wall now is more like an accent to the grey and white scheme, rather than dominating it.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2009 at 12:16PM
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Please post pictures. You'd be amazed at how the right color choice on the walls can change the appearance of tile.

To wit:

My horrible Pink bathroom with gray tile:
From fall photos and pink bathroom

SAME bathroom--same lighting--different wall paint: From fall photos and pink bathroom

Now, perhaps all your bath needs is different paint on the walls. Post a pic and let us help you!

    Bookmark   February 17, 2009 at 2:18PM
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